“Sorry, I can’t do tomorrow. I'm having my AGM.”
When I was starting my first business, any time I would say something like that to a friend or family member, I’d get a raised eyebrow. “Really?” they’d ask incredulously. I could see them wondering if I was trying to make my business sound more important than it was. “Really,” I’d respond matter-of-factly. “I do one every year.”
Now it doesn’t matter if you call it an AGM, or a Board Meeting, or a Strategy Day, or a Brainstorming Session, the point here is that there can be no substitute for setting aside at least a few days each year to plan, think about, and course-correct your business. Especially in the beginning. The foundations you put in place now will be what you carry with you – or waste time fixing! – forever.
From the very beginning I have done an AGM in January where I review the previous year, note key lessons learned, consider how to avoid repeating any mistakes, and plot my targets and strategy for the year ahead.
Then, every quarter, I do a Quarterly Review where I review the previous three months, measure progress against my targets, and make any course corrections needed to get back on track. I also take time to reflect on why things are, or are not, going as planned and analyse whether it’s my targets or my tactics that need adjusting.
I book my AGM and quarterly reviews into the calendar in advance, allocate a FULL day to each, and commit to being distraction-free (that means NO email or phone checking until scheduled breaks). I also leave my office so I don’t get sucked into anything literally or figuratively lying on my desks. I choose nice venues with decent food and drink options so I have no excuse to break the flow of the session. I make an agenda, take notes, and that’s it. Just like in any other business.
None of this is complicated, but as happens so often, essential things like review meetings are really easy to do and really easy not to do… especially when you’re your own boss.
But the truth is, if you really want to be “bossing it” then you have to do some boss-like things and call a meeting! (And no excuses if you’re a one-wo/man band. You should still allocate a few days a year to high-level business planning, target-setting, lesson-learning, and year-reviewing on your own.)
It's important to treat your business as a business from the beginning. So put these meetings into your annual calendar (and then actually holding the meetings!), and you will be amazed at how much more focus and growth you and your business experience.
You just have to start, so why not start now?